8 Hacks We Learned from Displaying 1 Billion Email Popups

I work for a solution that allows marketers to create popups and bars.

Every month, our customers display 40 million popups.

True, that’s quite a lot.

Today I’d like to share a few tips and techniques we learned after analyzing thousands of campaigns and running hundreds of A/B tests. We want to help you avoid making the same mistakes we made and build your email list faster.

Ready? Let’s go!

Hack #1: Reward Your Subscribers

An average internet user sends and receives about 269 emails per day.

Number of sent and received emails per day worldwide

Source: Radicati Group, Statista 2018

As the pressure on inboxes is getting stronger and stronger, users tend to think twice before sharing their email address.

That’s why rewarding your subscribers is so important. It gives an extra incentive to sign up.

Rewards can be a coupon, a chance to participate in a drawing, an invitation to an exclusive event (a private sale, for example), a media file (e-book, audio file, etc.) or anything else that won’t ruin your marketing budget and would be valuable for your visitors.

Do you want to see an illustration of the power of rewards?

This screenshot comes from one of our customers, a leading online shoe retailer. For months, they didn’t use any specific offer in their popup. In February, they introduced a competition in their opt-in popup: subscribers were offered a chance to win a $500 voucher. The results? Their email subscription popup’s conversion rate went from 0.53% to 5.68% — a 971% increase!

Email subscription popup's conversion rate

Hack #2: Segment Your Campaigns

Are all of your visitors alike? Are they looking for the same thing on your website? Chances are that you have different types of customers. They have different characteristics and expectations for your website. Digital marketers call these different profiles “Personas.”

How does this apply to popups?

Let’s take the example of an online clothing store. They’re selling women’s and men’s clothes. It wouldn’t make any sense to display the same message to these two targets.

The same works in B2B as well if your company sells more than one product. You would not display the same email capture popup to the users interested in service A as you would to those interested in service B.

Here’s an example of this strategy on Investopedia. I was browsing through a definition page, and here’s the popup I got. As you can see, it was closely related to my interest of the moment: learning more about investment terms.


Source: Investopedia

What’s interesting is that visitors exiting the homepage get a more general message. No more “Term of the day,” but a more general content.

Investopedia popup

Source: Investopedia

Hack #3: Test Your Timing

Timing is everything for a popup.

See the results of this A/B test run by a high-end HiFi retailer?

popup timimg stats

The popup displayed on landing collected 3,681 more emails than the same one displayed after two pages:

I’d love to be able to share a golden rule for popup timing. But A/B tests have shown us that each situation is different. On some websites, the opt-in rate is higher when the popup is displayed right away. On others, it performs better when it’s displayed after a few seconds or once the user has scrolled down a bit.

So instead, we recommend you test different triggers and timings until you find your website’s sweet spot.

Hack #4: Use FOMO

Popups are great because they allow you to interrupt your users and focus their attention on your subscription form. They have a downside, though.

Once the user has closed your modal, there’s no way back. In other words, you have only 2 to 5 seconds to convince your user to join your email list.

One of the strategies you can use to make the most of this short period of time is FoMo.

Wikipedia defines it this way: “a pervasive apprehension that others might be having rewarding experiences from which one is absent.”

You can use this to drive your visitors to subscribe. Here’s an illustration from Sitepoint. See the quote? It suggests that visitors may be missing out an excellent book if they don’t subscribe right away.

Sitepoint popup

Source: SitePoint

This is the same strategy Pure Cycles uses in their popups. Their popup mentions “information every bike owner should know.” I would be tempted to click just to make sure I’m not missing unique advice.

Pure Cycles Popup

Source: Pure Cycles

Hack #5: Renew Your Creatives Often

Popup designs are like clothes. You need to renew them because they wear out. And you need to make sure they’re adapted to the season.

It’s especially important if you’ve set the same campaign to display more than once to the same user (this a major difference between popups and emails — a given email will be seen only once by a user, while a popup can be seen more than once).

Here’s a quick illustration from one of our customers, a prominent book author. As you can see, the conversion rate peaks when the campaign is updated and declines month after month.

campaign's conversion rate


Hack #6: Separate Your Desktop and Mobile Campaigns

If you’re like most website owners, a majority of your traffic is mobile.

share of web traffic by device

Source: Hootsuite

As you may know, a few elements make the mobile browsing experience different:

  • Users are limited by touch controls
  • Users are limited by their bandwidth
  • There are some specific SEO rules, too

All things considered, we recommend creating device-specific campaigns. This will help you adapt your popups to your audience.

If you want to know more about mobile popup design, I recommend this presentation we gave a few days ago.

Hack #7: Welcome Your New Subscribers

You need to strike while the iron is hot. So, it’s important you set up an email sequence before activating your email capture campaign.

Start with a welcome email sent right after the visitor subscribes to your list (74% of consumers expect to receive a welcome email immediately). This welcome email is usually the most profitable and contributes immensely towards turning these new subscribers into clients.

welcome email stats

You can also create a follow-up sequence if the user doesn’t purchase after receiving the first email. This will help you maximize the results of your sequence.

Hack #8: Monitor, Test, and Iterate

Let’s be honest. It will take you time and patience to build a successful list-building strategy.

To make sure your strategy is optimal, you need to look at the right KPIs and create tests to optimize them:

  • Displays: do you get enough displays to capture as many emails as possible? Do you have a campaign for each of the most popular sections of your website?
  • Conversion rate: what percentage of the users who see your popup do you convert into subscribers? To give you an idea, our average conversion rate is 5.9%.
  • Opening rate: what percentage of your new subscribers actually open your email? This will help you make sure you’re collecting valuable emails.
  • ROI: what revenue do you generate from these new emails you’re collecting?

Then it’s up to you to test different triggers, segments, offers, and wording to maximize your results.


We’ve covered email popup basics. Now it’s your turn to test and experiment with them.

Good luck!



Greg works at WisePops. As part of his job, he participated in elaborating the popup strategy of brands such as Skechers, Vans, and Greenpeace.